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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Edit: Please answer my specific newbie questions re: equipment.

OK. Here goes. A month ago, my wife decided she wanted to change her cardio routine to cycling. So, we did some research and got her a great deal on an 05 Lemond WSD. So, now, all she does is pester me to join her. I'm a golfer. My weekends are sacred and as silly as it may sound to you (keep in mind, some of you shave your legs) I enjoy hitting and chasing a white ball around well manicured fairways. But, I would like to join her on weekday evenings, and maybe the occasional summer afternoon after I play my 18.

I have ridden just about every bike brand from Fuji to Trek in the $750-1250 range and get all sorts of conflicting advice.

Let's see, I have ridden:

Trek 1000
Trek 1200 (I also rode a Trek CF bike at the insistence of the LBS and that ensured I would not return to that one)
Scott S30
GTR (forgot but it was an Ultegra bike for $1300)
Raleigh Grand Prix (2005 and 2006)
Jamis (a steel one, a model I forget)
Felt F80 and F65
Specialized Allex
Fuji Roubaix
Lemond Tourmalet
Cannondale (a used one with 105/Ultegra group)

All in a 56cm or 57cm frame.

So, maybe I can get some advice/answers from people who are not trying to sell me something:

First, I am 6'0" and currently 235 pounds. I run 2 miles 3-4 days per week and golf on weekends (walking where permitted). I would say I am in average to slightly below average shape (it takes 20-22 minutes for me to run the 2 miles on hilly terrain) I think my knees (one fully reconstructed ACL and one torn meniscus) limit me more than my CV.

1. Steel vs AL - I've had one guy say I'd flex a steel frame and another tell me that AL would be uncomfortable for a guy my size. So, which is it? AL is more abundant and cheaper and CF is out of the question. We have a friend who I've pestered for a few weeks now who is serious. He rides a Litespeed and swears by steel.

2. Components - I've ridden everything from Sora to DuraAce (it was a used bike). I know weight of the equipment might not be important to a fatso like me, but what about quality? Can I go with a Tiagra equipped bike? Will that last? I had one bike guy tell me that because of my size and strength, I might "shred" Sora's or Tiagra's. I don't know what that means, but I know I can feel the difference in quality just from short test rides. Is it just weight that distinguishes a Sora from a Tiagra from a 105?

3. New vs. Used - a related question. I understand the importance of having a relationship with your LBS and we have a good one so far with the people that we bought my wife's bike from, but If I am going to spend $1000, wouldn't it be better to get someone's used higher end (105/Ultegra) bike than a newer bike with "lower end" (Sora/Tiagra)components? For example, there are quite a few nice 56cm bikes for sale in your classified section, like an older Merlin or Fondriest for $800. Is that "better" than a brand new Trek 1000?

4. Double v. Triple. - I live in Atlanta. Its quite hilly. I've heard many cyclists disparage the triple as a "granny" gear. Should I go with a triple, or would I be OK with an 8 or 9 speed double?

5. Geometry - as a large guy, should I look for compact or traditional or is it all about feel? I rode a nice 2002 Cannondale but it felt "twitchy" to me. Is that geometry or material or me? I rode a brand new Scott and it felt solid and smooth. Is "twitchiness" realted to "performance"? And if so, does it matter to me?

6. Brands - Some brands I've heard of and some I haven't. I don't see many reviews for Scott, but they felt very comfortable and had quality components. If I buy a $750 bike now and want to upgrade in a year as I become more obsessed, should I stick to the known brands because they will hold value or should I not worry?

7. Sloping Top Tube - OK, Is it me, or does a sloping top tube just make the bike look like a girls bike? Does this serve any purpose - strength, weight, etc? I know it sounds irrational, but I want the bike to look aggressive and sporty and yes, traditional, but if someone has a compelling reason, I'll listen.

OK. I feel its time to fish or cut bait and greatly apprecaite your help.

Thanks

Chris
 

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I just bought a new bike and am a newbie to road biking. I have a couple friends who are seriously "into" biking and spend thousands of dollars. I have another good friend who rides the bike he got from his brother and is more, shall we say "realistic"? I just bought a Giant OCR3 yesterday and rode it with him for a bit over an hour today, and it was excellent excellent fun. Here's my take:

1. Steel is heavier, but it's stronger and if you crash it'll be less likely to bend. I'm 6'0" and 190lbs. I bought an aluminum frame. It's pretty damn unlikely you'll break your Al framed bike just by riding it. They make motorcycle frames out of Al if it makes you feel any better.
2. More expensive stuff will shift a bit smoother. Parts may be mated a touch nicer. My Sora bike shifts very smoothly, much nicer than the mountain bikes I used to ride to commute. Weight: so many road bicyclists are OBSESSED over weight. Quite frankly it makes as much difference if you take a crap or not before you get on the bike as it does if you have a $750 or $5000 bike with regard to weight. All this "shread this, shread that" is a bunch of crap. Oh sure eventually your cogs will wear out and you'll spend $20 to replace them. But that's a LONG LONG time in the future. You'll never get there if you don't actually buy a bike and ride it!

3. You sound like a smart guy, but just like me, you agonize over things too much. Used: you run the risk of getting burned. New: You'll pay more but pay more FOR A REASON. Go somewhere who offers at least 2-3 years of free service and they'll help you get fitted on the bike. It's all in the salesman, if they're posers and are telling you you need to spend more $$$, then they're paid on comission and they're NOT out to help you! Go somewhere where you get a good GUT feeling, if the guy is helping you you'll know. If it feels bad, it IS bad.

4. Get a triple. Buying a double is idiocy for a new rider. You're going to need that low gear at some point and you're a BIG guy, do you really want to have to walk the bike up the hill? You're not riding to impress these macho $5k bicyclists, you're riding to have FUN for YOU.

5. Twitchyness - two things. I'm a motorcyclist and this is where I get my reasoning from. Twitchyness has to do with the angles of the steering head and frame geometry. Also it has a lot MORE to do with how much pressure you're putting on the grips (for bicycles especially). For a newbie, if the bike is not set up for you you may end up putting tons of pressure on the grips and as you shift your weight, you'll make the bike feel twitchy. Make sure the bike is setup for you first, then ride it. Twitchyness often means being able to initiate a turn faster. Quite frankly these bicycles turn so much faster than your average motorcycle that i'm happy with whatever. Unless you dodge bullets, I wouldn't worry, ride whatever feels right.

6. Low end, brands are all the same. If you're at a bike store that looks clean, they're all the same. If you're buying online, read reviews and look for the quality of the frame welds (smooth & even = good)

7. It's YOUR bike, don't get the sloping one if you don't like it.

You're agonizing over this stuff just like me, and I wrote all the above junk to try and help ya feel better. But mate, just go out and BUY a bike from the shop that gives good service and decent fitting, and go RIDE it. Don't listen to all the rubbish from people who bought $2k bikes, they just want to justify their expenses (no offense to folks here, it's a hobby and spending money makes *you* feel good so it's right for you, but it's NOT right for folks just getting into it!). Keep in mind Lance Armstrong on a $600 bike will beat them any day of the week.

I really love the OCR3's adjustable stem - it means I can try out different handlebar position settings and see what fits for me. You CANNOT fit just by measuring in a shop, you FIT by RIDING. It's YOUR preferences. Through millions of years of evolution you have a series of nerve endings that monitor skin pressure, temperature, pain, and you have endings in your muscles that monitor the length of your muscles and the tension (it's the proprioceptive system in case you were wondering) and transmit this info to a neural network more complex than the latest multibillion dollar supercomputer. YOUR BODY can decide fit better than anything else in the world. Go buy a bike with an adjustable seat and stem and get riding, YOU WILL KNOW if you're uncomfortable and YOU can find your ideal settings. Just have the shop approximate things for you and you'll feel much more comfortable at the start. Make sure the guy you're with is not commissioned and is taking time to explain why each setting is done the way it is. Then fine tune it yourself after you've been riding for 10-15 hours.

Other things on the OCR3:
-Extra brake levers on the straight bars, sweet for the newbie who's not used to the regular ones and sweet for using when you're riding through traffic and you want to sit up to see oncoming cars.
-Cushy seat: much nicer than the ones on the other $1k bikes I sat on
-It's only $600, if you get a $1250 bike you're just going to baby it and never ride the damn thing, so you'll never get any fun or exercise out of it. What's the use?

Go buy whatever bike feels good when it's been adjusted and sized for you. If you can't decide, go buy the Giant OCR3, it's a sweet ride and it's designed with all the features someone new to road biking needs, I love mine and I plan on training up for a 150 mile 2 day race over the next few months.
 

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Frame material and compact vs traditional frame shape doesn't make that much difference. Especially for a beginner. Try test riding both steel and aluminum bikes and see what bike speaks to you.

Definately get a triple. Being overgeared is just plain dumb, and it can hurt your knees. It's better to have the low gears and not need them than to need them and not have them.

Any good shop will swap around stem, seat, bars, etc to get a bike just right. Keep in mind that as you get miles under your belt (seat?) your bike fit will change.

Set aside money for helmet, gloves, shorts, tools, pumps, water bottles, etc. If you know what of those things you want, when you buy your bike you can get them too. Often the shop will discount the extras if they are bought along with the bike. You're going to need them anyhow, might as well be ready to get them.
 

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I will add one thing to the already good advice you've gotten.

At your size (which is the same as mine), you should probably steer clear of wheels with low spoke counts. Unfortunately, wheels with 28 or fewer spokes are very popular, even on low-end bikes, because it makes them look racier. At your weight and skill level, though, you'll be WAAAAY better off with both front and rear wheels that have 32 spokes, laced triple-cross (a bike shop person will know what you mean).

You may have to build in the cost of a set of wheels into your budget (don't splurge on fancy hubs or rims--you just want strong wheels), or they may take the stock wheels from your bike in trade for a discount on sturdier ones, or just do a straight swap of wheels between your intended bike and one that has the wheels you need.

So it may make your bike more expensive (though it may not), but in the long run these stronger wheels will stay true more reliably and last longer.

And see if you can get tires in the 25 mm width instead of the 23s that likely will be on the bike--they'll be a little comfier and a lot less likely to pinch flat if you hit a nasty pothole.
 

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I have the Scott S30, have had it for about six months and around 800 miles. Caveats: It's my first real bike, ever, and I'm still a bit of a newbie when it comes to cycling - as such, I have nothing to really compare it to. I also was at first put off because Scott bikes seem very rare here in the US (I understand they are more popular in Europe?). But now I find it kind of cool to be riding a bike that no one else has!

I personally love the S30. I got a proper fitting for free at my LBS where I purchased the bike, and I think that probably made a huge difference - make sure you can get a fitting with (ideally) a certified fitter that uses motion video to actually track your pedalling motion, etc. If you buy from a bike shop, they will often offer the fitting for free. While the actual price of the bike might be a bit cheaper on line, I got a very good deal because I ended up getting various accessories for free (not to mention the fitting and free service for 2 years).

I have had zero problems with the bike. Gear shifting feels quick and smooth to me. It came with 28-spoke wheels and continental ultrasport tires; tire-changing very easy even for a newbie like me (I haven't actually had a flat yet, but I've practiced several times). It came with a double - I asked for a triple, but was told that it would delay shipment by a couple of months, so I just went with a double. Since I've never ridden a triple, I don't have anything to compare it to, but I do know I'm always with the top guys on my group rides up hills.

Try on a couple of pair of shorts, and wear them in the store for a few minutes - trust me on this. Ideally, do a quick ride on a trainer inside the store. Buying just on size alone is a mistake unless you're getting a second pair of shorts of a brand you already know.

Anyway, remember that this is all advice from a beginner - YMMV.
 

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1. Steel vs AL - I've had one guy say I'd flex a steel frame and another tell me that AL would be uncomfortable for a guy my size. So, which is it? AL is more abundant and cheaper and CF is out of the question. We have a friend who I've pestered for a few weeks now who is serious. He rides a Litespeed and swears by steel.
BS...at your size you could ride either. Any frame material can be either stiff or noodly depending on the manufacture.

2. Components - I've ridden everything from Sora to DuraAce (it was a used bike). I know weight of the equipment might not be important to a fatso like me, but what about quality? Can I go with a Tiagra equipped bike? Will that last? I had one bike guy tell me that because of my size and strength, I might "shred" Sora's or Tiagra's. I don't know what that means, but I know I can feel the difference in quality just from short test rides. Is it just weight that distinguishes a Sora from a Tiagra from a 105?
Anything will work. It'll last long enough for a beginner. By then you'll want a different bike anyway.



3. New vs. Used - a related question. I understand the importance of having a relationship with your LBS and we have a good one so far with the people that we bought my wife's bike from, but If I am going to spend $1000, wouldn't it be better to get someone's used higher end (105/Ultegra) bike than a newer bike with "lower end" (Sora/Tiagra)components? For example, there are quite a few nice 56cm bikes for sale in your classified section, like an older Merlin or Fondriest for $800. Is that "better" than a brand new Trek 1000?
I'd go new for a first bike from a local LBS--that way you can pester them with questions and get help with tune-ups ans such. You can get more of a bike if you go used, but you better know what you need. A road bike is a lot harder to fit than a MTB.

4. Double v. Triple. - I live in Atlanta. Its quite hilly. I've heard many cyclists disparage the triple as a "granny" gear. Should I go with a triple, or would I be OK with an 8 or 9 speed double?
Get triple...you aren't gonna be racing right now so swallow your pride and have the gears you need.

5. Geometry - as a large guy, should I look for compact or traditional or is it all about feel? I rode a nice 2002 Cannondale but it felt "twitchy" to me. Is that geometry or material or me? I rode a brand new Scott and it felt solid and smooth. Is "twitchiness" realted to "performance"? And if so, does it matter to me?
Doesn't matter. Geometry will affect handling. If you want stable look for something with a bit slacker geometry--sometimes referred to as "stage race" geometry. You don't want something with a steep geometry and high bottom bracket if you want stable handling--that kind of bike is only good for crits where you need the fast handling and the ground clearance IMO. Then again...some people like that kind of bike.

6. Brands - Some brands I've heard of and some I haven't. I don't see many reviews for Scott, but they felt very comfortable and had quality components. If I buy a $750 bike now and want to upgrade in a year as I become more obsessed, should I stick to the known brands because they will hold value or should I not worry?
Scott is fine.

7. Sloping Top Tube - OK, Is it me, or does a sloping top tube just make the bike look like a girls bike? Does this serve any purpose - strength, weight, etc? I know it sounds irrational, but I want the bike to look aggressive and sporty and yes, traditional, but if someone has a compelling reason, I'll listen.
It saves the manufacturer money to only have to make 3-4 frame sizes and looks more like a MTB if that appeals to you. No real advantage to a traditional style frame IMO.
 

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bikeboy389 said:
I will add one thing to the already good advice you've gotten.

At your size (which is the same as mine), you should probably steer clear of wheels with low spoke counts. Unfortunately, wheels with 28 or fewer spokes are very popular, even on low-end bikes, because it makes them look racier. At your weight and skill level, though, you'll be WAAAAY better off with both front and rear wheels that have 32 spokes, laced triple-cross (a bike shop person will know what you mean).

You may have to build in the cost of a set of wheels into your budget (don't splurge on fancy hubs or rims--you just want strong wheels), or they may take the stock wheels from your bike in trade for a discount on sturdier ones, or just do a straight swap of wheels between your intended bike and one that has the wheels you need.

So it may make your bike more expensive (though it may not), but in the long run these stronger wheels will stay true more reliably and last longer.

And see if you can get tires in the 25 mm width instead of the 23s that likely will be on the bike--they'll be a little comfier and a lot less likely to pinch flat if you hit a nasty pothole.
Definately take this advice...25 tires and higher spoke count rims are a must at your weight unless you want to break spokes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
In case anyone was wondering, I finally pulled the trigger on a bike yesterday. I was all set to go new, when I found a 2004 Felt F70 for sale. The owner claimed that he was a mountain biker who rarely rode it. 105s all around (27 speed), Crank Bros Quattro pedals (also included the stock Wellgo), Astrale 8 computer.

Based on the Felt website - this is nearly identical to the 2006 F80 I was looking at getting, but I paid $250-300 less. So, I fell like I got a good bike for less than I wanted to pay (in case cycling doesn't "take" with me) and



Thanks for the help guys.
 
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